I've never clung to the word "Perfect". I have no issues with doing what works (or doesn't work) for me, my family, friends, job, choices, you name it. I have never been one to compare myself regularly to others. I like "doing my own thing" or thang depending on what kind of mood I am in. As a new parent I am in this amazing club of other parents forever. A club where you can always ask for help if you need it. You can (hopefully) be honest and know that someone else has gone through a similar situation so you are never alone in your experience. A club that you can not fully understand until you are in it.
As a new parent you will face a million new choices, what kind of food, diapers, sheets, clothing, toys, bottles will you give your baby. Will you breastfeed, formula, when to start veggies, but not too many fruits as they are high in sugar, checking ingredients like you've never checked before. Where will the baby sleep, how long will they sleep there, do they need a blanket? Are we going to the park, do we need a sweater, what kind of germs are on that slide? I know as humans we need some germs and it helps build our immune system. I also know that wearing your shoes around your house all day drops little bits of disgustingness that I never want to see on a microscope.
I know that we try our best. We can never do it all. And as parents I think this is extra hard to comprehend. When you first become a parent you can be so overwhelmed with the new experience, the exhausting moments and the heart warming days that trying to plan for what comes next is nearly impossible.
It is hard to watch when your baby gets a cold, an ear infection, even the sniffles for the first time. But it happens. I have let my germaphobe guard down a lot since becoming a mother. However today, after having lunch in Lawrence with a good friend, I let my daughter walk a block or so on her own. Every few feet she would stumble a little, let her hands touch the sidewalk and then she would regroup and continue to walk/run with both her arms straight up to the sky and her mouth wide open with pure joy bursting from her finger tips. Every person that walked by smiled and took notice of her pride in walking all on her own like the big girl she is. They did not notice her mother trying to kick things out of her path, and thankfully they did not hear the inner monologue her mom was having as she tried not to imagine the different ickiness that lay at her daughter's feet. When we left I picked her up and did not let her put her fingers in her mouth which as a teething 13 month old that is exactly where you want your hands to be... I wiped her hands off with a wipe once we got to the car and on the drive home I wondered what I was irritated about. I certainly wasn't irritated by the happiness this beautiful child has brought to me and anyone she meets. I was irritated that I kept thinking about the possible germs she picked up from her fun walk and the fact that it was my fault for letting her do that. That is one.... slightly skewed perspective but it is the honest one I was having at that moment. As she got antsy in the car on the ride home I gave her several books and toys to play with... finally I let her have a water bottle to entertain herself with and it was the same one that was sitting on the restaurant table we had just ate, the one the waitress had just sprayed some substance to clean with and now in my mind, my daughter was now eating the remainder of that substance. At this point I said in my head something I don't remember ever saying before "I am mad that I didn't do it perfectly". And what does that mean exactly? Never let her touch germs, never go out in public, never let anyone who has ever been sick be around her? No, truly I'm not that far gone.... yet. Perfectly means always coming up short, always feeling like I didn't do it right and that is no way I want to live.
I felt a big sigh of relief when that "perfect" word left my mouth. I am doing the best I can. I will continue to do a lot of things really well, and sometimes I will do things that just do not work out. My husband and I will be the very best parents to our daughter, that I know for sure. I will make the best food, sing and read to my daughter as much as possible. Then again sometimes I will let my daughter watch some of the price is right and eat a graham cracker in the middle of the day. I will show my daughter the alphabet, shapes and colors all day long. Then again, sometimes I will end dinner with a dance off to a Beyonce song just to make her smile. And some times I will let our daughter play in the grass and then not fully wash her hands before dinner. Some times I will let our daughter destroy a roll of toilet paper in the hallway so I can go the bathroom for two seconds by myself.
Thank goodness we can all make these choices for ourselves and for our families. And thank goodness none of us have to live up to perfect because it does not exist. My days are made of love, and joy.... peace and beauty that I find in the wonderful, authentic moments spent with my family.